Best Year Ever!

Great Teachers Master the Science and Art of Teaching

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique;

they are great because of their passion.”

–Martha Graham–

I believe technique and passion are essential in order to be truly great at whatever you do!  However, passion provides the magic that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  It’s what makes a person or their work standout from the crowd.  This goes for dancers, singers, painters, musicians, and pooper scoopers scooping poop on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan!

Yes…I said it…EVEN pooper scoopers scooping poop on Mackinac Island!  Let me explain.

A few years ago, my family took a trip up to beautiful Mackinac Island which is located in the Straits of Mackinac between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  Going to the island is like going back in time because there are virtually no motor vehicles on this island.  People walk, ride bikes, and use horses to get around.  It is quite quaint and really cool, but there is quite a bit of horse poop that comes with this quaintness and coolness that must be continually scooped up so the bikers and walkers can travel safely around the island.

To solve this problem, Mackinac Island employs a legion of poopers scooper, armed with shovels, to walk around the streets scooping the poop into the wooden carts they push around.  My guess is that this has to be one of the lowest entry position jobs one can get on the island–one that most would definitely not hope to have very long.  Most go quietly about their business unnoticed as they attend to cleaning up the horses’ business each day.  (Sorry, but I just couldn’t pass that pun up!)

However, on this particular trip, we ran into the most amazing pooper scooper EVER!  If there is a Hall-of-Fame for pooper scoopers, this young pooper scooper will definitely have his wooden cart and shovel enshrined in it someday.  He was that good!  It wasn’t his technique that stood out so much as his passion for scooping the poop!  I kid you not, a crowd of tourist including my family were following him around watching and listening to him as he worked to fill his cart.  He would hold up his full shovel and invite tourist to purchase HIS fudge (which the island is known for selling great fudge) and reminded many of us in the crowd that our jobs couldn’t be nearly as “crappy” as his.  He was putting on a show and we were loving every minute of it!

In all seriousness, this guy was an artist!  He took a job most would dread having and found a way to breathe passion into it that made him truly stand out in the crowd.  I’m confident his passion wasn’t so much in helping to keep the streets of Mackinac Island clean but rather in using that job to find a way to uplift those around him and make their trips even a little more memorable.  I know he did that for my family!

I once heard a guest conductor working with my son’s high school band say that they were playing their instruments technically correct but that they needed to play with more emotion–more passion!  He explained how this was needed in order to make the music really come alive and move an audience.  He told them that would come with more practice and with more mastery over the technique of learning to play their instruments.

This applies to teaching as well!  I have always believed that good teaching is a science and an art!  I also believe that you must master the science of teaching (the technique) before you can really explore the art of teaching (breathing life into it and making it your own).  As important as it is to master the science of teaching, it’s the art of teaching that makes our profession so exciting and creative.

Like all artists, we are influenced by other artists that help to create our own unique style of teaching.  We can learn the same techniques but must be given artistic freedom to explore how best to express ourselves and our passions through these techniques to better reach our students.  Just as there are different styles of music (rock, country, hip-hop, classical, etc.) that follow the same basic science/laws of music, teaching can have just as many (if not more) unique styles growing from the same basic teaching techniques.

But like I said at the start of this entry, I believe technique and passion are necessary in order to be truly great at whatever you do!  However, passion provides the magic that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  It’s what makes a person or their work standout from the crowd.  Therefore, it is essential that just like the Mackinac Island all-star pooper scooper, you find a way to bring your passion for teaching and life into your classroom each day to share with your students as you continue to master the art and science of teaching!

Remember, you have the power to MAKE IT HAPPEN!


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